A Chat With Adam Scott of Starz New Series 'Party Down'
Adam Scott (Step Brothers, Tell Me You Love Me) plays Henry, an out-of-work actor who has to return to his old job of bartending for a catering service. Adam talked about the new series, what it was like working with Will Ferrell in Step Brothers and why so many college age students watched his old show, Boy Meets World.
Mike: How did your involvement in Party Down come about?
Adam: Well, Rob Thomas and John Enbom and Paul Rudd, we're all buddies; we've been buddies for years and years. And these guys had written Party Down several years back and then it kind of went away for awhile. Two years ago we all had kind of a break -- [Thomas's show] Veronica Mars got canceled -- so those guys were looking for something to do. Rob called and wanted to shoot it at his house -- just pay for it themselves and shoot a pilot for fun.
I was doing Tell Me You Love Me so I couldn't really go do a show, but it was more to hang out with friends and do this funny thing. So, we just did it and kind of forgot about it. Two years later Starz wanted to do it so they picked it up. And Tell Me You Love Me got cancelled like a week before they picked it up so it was good timing that way. We just all kind of came together accidentally.
Mike: I was at the Starz screening (on Wednesday), the episode they showed was the one with Ed Begly Jr.
Adam: Oh yeah, that's a good one. The first two episodes are us finding our footing a bit.
Mike: I saw the first episode, too.
Adam: Yeah, I mean it's fine but we're all just kind of getting to know each other. And it's funny but with episode three you see what the show actually is. And, yeah, that's a good episode.
Mike: Well, I have to automatically like any show that makes an Ordinary People joke; just the fact that movie is mentioned. And the characters are quite likable; they're fun to watch.
Adam: Yeah, thanks! I think everyone in the show is so funny and so great.
Mike: It's such a great cast.
Adam: Yeah, totally. Jane Lynch, Ken (Marino), Ryan Hansen and Martin Starr. Lizzie (Caplan) is great; everyone is awesome.
Mike: Your character, Henry ... he's kind of like Rob Fitzgerald who was the "I love you, man" guy from those bud light commercials, right? Henry has the commercial catchphrase, "Are we having fun yet?"
Adam: Oh right. It's like he was ubiquitous; he was like the Dell guy. Like just this annoying guy that was in everyone's home. And now he's kind of the "where are they now?" sort of personality. And he's quit acting and kind of, you know, bartending at a catering company and just wanting to kill himself. Not literally wanting to kill himself, but just very very unhappy.
He finds himself back at the catering company that he left eight years ago to be a big star. If that's not depressing enough: His old buddy that he used to party with at the catering company is now sober and running the team. That's Ken Marino's character, Ron Donald, who's just a total dipshit.
Mike: Right. It's like when Ron walks in on you and Jane Lynch smoking pot in the bathroom and gives the "Straight Talk" speech.
Adam: Yeah, he's an idiot. I think Marino's a genius, I think he's the funniest guy ever. So f*cking funny. I think throughout the season you start to see (Henry) start to make moves to actually build his life back up again. Sometimes it crumbles, sometimes it starts to work out. It's kind of an interesting character.
Mike: Fred Savage actually directed the first episode, right?
Adam: Yeah, he directed half of them. We just had two directors for the whole season, they would just alternate back and forth. Fred directed half and Bryan Gordan directed the other half. Bryan does a lot of Curb Your Enthusiasm and Aaron Sorkin stuff. He's really terrific; they're both just great. It's like making a little movie with two directors and just switching off every week ... because usually on a show you get a different director every week. And you're kind of starting from ground zero every week -- there are many advantages to that -- but it was advantageous to have just two guys for the full season.
Mike: And you had worked with Fred's brother, Ben, on Boy Meets World.
Adam: Yeah, and we wanted Ben to come in and do this part toward the end of the season ... and he passed. We were like, "What the f^ck, dude." (Laughs) No, I think he just didn't have time or something. Yeah, I worked with Ben on Boy Meets World when I was like 23 or something. That was a long time ago.
Mike: When I was in college Boy Meets World was a guilty pleasure for me and my friends.
Adam: (Laughs) Yeah, I hear it was a dorm room stoner show. It's confounding to me, I don't understand.
Mike: Looking back I don't understand it either, I can't imagine we were the demographic they were they were trying to reach. And even worse in our case: No marijuana was involved.
Adam: That is weird. You were just bored enough to get into Boy Meets World.
Mike: I think you actually stole a couple of scenes from Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly in Step Brothers.
Adam: You're being very generous. They're awesome, they're so cool. That was an incredible experience. The great thing about it is that they easily could have been intimidating people but those guys really want everyone just to be great. It's really collaborative. Of course, there's a lot of improv but they just want you to do your best. That is what makes those movies special, they invite everyone into the process. Aside from being flattering it winds up being conducive to good work all around. I mean, who knew Mary (Steenburgen) was as hilarious as she was in that movie?
Mike: And Richard Jenkins was very funny, too.
Adam. Yeah, totally. That dude ... I wanted him to win the Oscar.
Mike: This is the last thing: I was looking down your [Starpulse] page and my favorite character name that you played was "Defiant Helm Crewman" in Star Trek: First Contact. I love that the word "defiant" is in the name of the character.
Adam: I was never into Star Trek at all, I just never got it. I didn't know what the hell was going on; I was just there for, like, a morning and I get killed. People ask about it a lot because Star Trek is such a big deal but I was just one of those people who never gave a shit about Star Trek.
Mike: I just picture you going into auditions and a casting director asking, "Can you play defiant?" And you can always answer back, "Can I play defiant? My character's name was defiant!"
Adam: (Laughs) I AM DEFIANT! I was once paid to be defiant. That's the weird thing: I'm not really defiant, either. I'm just like, "Oh shit, we're going to crash." That's all I do. I think it's the opposite of defiant. I think it's almost "apathetically cruising toward disaster."
Mike: Maybe he should have been named "Frightened Helm Crewman."
Adam: Or "Pussy Helm Crewman."
Party Down aires Friday Nights at 10:30 pm EST on Starz.
"Mike's Pulse" is a column written by transplanted Midwesterner and current New Yorker Mike Ryan. For any compliments or complaints -- preferably the former -- you may contact Mike directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow Mike on Twitter
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